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Long Beach artist pulls out of exhibit after paintings are called 'overtly sexual'

February 13, 2009 |  4:28 pm

A dispute between an artist and her sponsor over whether some of the painter's abstract images of breasts could be viewed as “sexually overt artwork" ended today with the cancellation of the downtown Long Beach public exhibition titled “4 Chambers.”

The display of more than 70 works opened last Saturday and was originally scheduled to run through April. It was sponsored by Phantom Galleries LA, a for-profit community outreach program.

The trouble started after program Executive Director Liza Simone said two of the paintings could be viewed as offensive and they were removed from the exhibit, which is her prerogative as curator, she said. The artist, who goes by her first name, Christiana, demanded that the exhibit of her works be an all-oar-nothing display.

If the paintings with breast images — abstract orange and blue ellipses — were not returned to the exhibit walls at the commercial space along a trendy stretch of Pine Avenue, she would cancel the entire show of her work. In an earlier interview, Simone said her program specializes in work that she believes would be “appropriate for all ages. Anything that could potentially offend somebody we don’t show.”

Christiana, 40, a physical trainer and artist based in Laguna Beach, vehemently denied that there was anything obscene or pornographic about the paintings, which she called expressions of human emotion and form.

Today, as friends helped her dismantle the presentation, Christiana shook her head and said: “I’m still feeling a little confused about what happened here, but I’m glad that this chapter is ending peacefully.”

“At this point,” she added, “I just want to get my work and move on.”

-- Louis Sahagun